Call to free blockade over Ukraine wheat exports to prevent global food crisis  

Food stranded because of Russian war 'causing dramatic consequences for vulnerable countries', European Council president said
Call to free blockade over Ukraine wheat exports to prevent global food crisis  

European Council President Charles Michel and Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal visit the port in Odesa on Monday. Picture: by European Council handout/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock 

Ukraine's president called on the international community to take immediate steps to end a Russian blockade of his country's ports to allow wheat exports and prevent a global food crisis.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy made his comments in an online post after speaking to European Council president Charles Michel, who was visiting the city of Odesa, a major Black Sea port for exporting agricultural products.

"It is important to prevent a food crisis in the world caused by Russia's aggressive actions," Mr Zelenskyy wrote on the Telegram messaging app. "Immediate measures must be taken to unblock Ukrainian ports for wheat exports." 

Mr Zelenskyy did not specify what measures he would like taken.  

Ukraine was the world's fourth largest exporter of maize, or corn, in the 2020-2021 season and the number six wheat exporter, according to International Grains Council data. But nearly 25m tonnes of grains are now stuck in Ukraine, a UN food agency official said last week. 

Mr Michel, who chairs summits of the EU's national leaders, wrote on Twitter that he had seen silos full of grain, wheat and corn in Odesa that was ready for export but blocked.

Ukraine was the world's fourth largest exporter of maize, or corn, in the 2020-2021 season and the number six wheat exporter.
Ukraine was the world's fourth largest exporter of maize, or corn, in the 2020-2021 season and the number six wheat exporter.

"This badly needed food is stranded because of the Russian war and blockade of Black Sea ports. Causing dramatic consequences for vulnerable countries. We need a global response," he wrote.

Russia's blockade of Ukrainian ports since invading on February 24 have added to volatility in international financial markets, sending commodity prices higher.

UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres said last week the problem of global food security cannot be solved without restoring Ukrainian agricultural production to the world market. 

Ukrainian agriculture officials say the exportable surplus is about 12m tonnes, and agriculture analysts have said Ukraine's stocks are so high that there will not be enough room to store the new harvest when it comes.

Ukraine has sown about 7m hectares of spring crops so far this year, or 25-30% less than in the corresponding period of 2021, agriculture minister Mykola Solskyi said. 

He said Ukraine had exported just over 1m tonnes of grain in April, but that the sowing was not of the same quality as last year and the sowing area for corn was smaller. 

• Reuters

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